Alaska Sleep Education Center

Create a Bedtime Routine That Will Lead to Better Sleep

Posted by Paisley Hansen on Sep 16, 2020 7:35:00 AM

Fresh lavender in a heart shape design

The benefits of a good night's sleep are undisputed, but it can be entirely too difficult to quiet your body and mind enough to get the quality shuteye you need. Creating a bedtime routine customized to your needs can help with this. Here are some ideas to choose from that you can incorporate into your evenings before bed.

Use Aromatherapy

Different scents affect the body in powerful ways. Some of them, like lavender, can actually help your body relax and wind down for the night. A little while before bed, try diffusing Young Living Essential Oils in your bedroom or living room, rubbing them on the bottoms of your feet, or spraying some on your pillow to help ease your body into dreamland. If you take a shower at night, you can also put them into homemade shower steamers that will release them into the air as the hot water hits them.

 

Shut Off Your Phone

In addition to the light from your phone keeping your brain awake, the many tasks and distractions on it can cause you to start stressing about those. You never know what you're going to see when you check your email or social media, so why not eliminate the possibility of an unpleasant surprise right before you go to bed? Instead, pick up a good book or interesting magazine to help your brain quiet down. Just make sure the book isn't too good or suspenseful to put down when it's time to hit the hay.

 

Purposely Relax

Find something simple to incorporate into your evening routine to intentionally help yourself relax. It may be taking a hot shower or bath, listening to a soothing playlist, dimming the lights in your room, or doing a set of stretches. It doesn't need to take long, but finding something that helps you release some tension will benefit your sleep far more than that extra five minutes of lying in bed wondering why you can't fall asleep would.

 

Try Journaling

If you often find your swirling thoughts keeping you awake at night, it can be helpful to get them under control by journaling before bed. You can write them all out like you're talking to a friend, jot down bullet points, doodle, or even a list of to-do items in order to clear them from your brain. Put on some calming music and let your thoughts flow. It's amazing how much they sort themselves out and quiet down once you start releasing them. This can also help you identify which problems you truly do need to solve and which ones you can just let rest in the pages of your journal. If writing isn't up your alley, try speaking your thoughts out loud or meditating to help calm and focus your mind.

 

Drink Some Tea

You might have seen boxes of tea on the grocery store shelves that tout promises of peaceful sleep. While these often do contain herbs known for helping your body relax, even just the act of sipping a mug of the steamy, gentle beverage while you're watching your evening TV show can help you drift off faster. Some types of tea, such as peppermint, can aid digestion as well, helping your body relax more comfortably. If you don't like tea, you can try a glass of warm milk, cherry juice, almond milk or even a smoothie with bananas and almond butter. Just make sure you're staying away from drinks with sugar and caffeine beginning a few hours before bed.

 

Set a Bedtime

There's a reason why your parents set a bedtime for you when you were younger. When you go to bed and wake up at generally the same times every day, your body gets into a rhythm. This means that it has an easier time knowing when to send the signals that it's time to wind down. It also means you get deeper sleep and wake up more smoothly in the morning, because your body has adjusted to the regular schedule and knows how to make the most of your shuteye.

 

Be Still

While working out is very helpful for sleeping better, it can be counterproductive to get your heart rate up too close to your bedtime. Work out at least a couple of hours before you plan to go to bed so that your body can slow down from the adrenaline rush that comes with exercising. Gentle stretching right before bed can help you relax, though, and making sure you're moving enough each day will help your body be tired enough to fall asleep at night.

 

Stop Eating

Eating right before you go to bed can cause you to gain weight, have an energy burst that keeps you lying awake and just feel poorly. Don't try to go to sleep hungry, but instead schedule your snacks for a little while before bed to allow your body to properly digest them. Stay away from sugary foods and focus on more basic items like crackers, nuts or a dense fruit like a banana. This will keep your blood sugar steady and keep you from having too much energy to expend before bed.

 

Girl washing her face in sinkWash Your Face

Even if you don't like to shower at night, taking the time to wash your face can help you feel clean and relaxed as you get into bed. There is something about literally removing the day from your skin that is deeply refreshing. Washing your feet with a warm washcloth or soaking them in the bathtub for a few minutes can also help you wind down. Bonus points if you use a relaxing scented soap or scrub to get in a little aromatherapy.

 

Make Your Bedroom Optimal for Sleeping

Creating the right environment for quality sleep is very important. Minimize harsh lighting in your room by shutting off the overhead light and turning on your bedside table lamp. Cool down your room by turning on a ceiling fan or lowering your thermostat, and make sure you have plenty of cozy blankets available to help you stay warm. Turn on a small fan or white noise machine to block out the creaks of your house and traffic in the street to help you fall and stay asleep. Even investing in some soft sheets or a weighted blanket can make a difference.

While you probably don't have time to incorporate every one of these ideas into your bedtime routine, try choosing a few that you can easily add to your schedule. Test them out and keep the ones that help you while removing the ones that don't. As you start to discover what works for you, you'll be well on your way to nights full of quality sleep.

If you live in Alaska and you would like to speak to a sleep specialist about improving your bedtime routine, please click the link below or call Alaska Sleep Clinic @ 907-770-9104.

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Topics: bedtime, sleep habits, sleep routine

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